PB 14/38 - Africa’s Employment Challenge and the Role of Agriculture: Is China a Player? A Review of Chinese Initiatives in Rural Africa

Ward Anseeuw, Jean-Jacques Gabas and Bruno Losch

Date of Publication: 
December 2014

Over the last years African economies have been praised for their robust growth rates which offer positive perspectives for economic development and private investment and suggest a process of catching-up with the rest of the world. However, the quality of this growth is a growing issue because it has a very limited impact on poverty and does not translate so far in a progressive structural transformation of African economies. Therefore, and due to a booming labor force, employment is becoming a burning issue where the question of the sectors of absorption of growing cohorts of youth challenges public policies.

This paper recapitulates first the specifics of African structural transformation, its consequences on the employment challenge and points the remaining and long lasting importance of the rural sector. It then puts in perspective the role of China and its impacts on the sector. Based on new evidence, it reviews Chinese interventions - investments and public aid – and stresses its limitations. The paper finally addresses the evolving role of Chinese cooperation in the rural sector and its uncertainties, between increasing implication in the policy dialogue or withdrawal towards a business-only perspective.

View Policy Brief: DPRU PB 14/38